Friday, December 28, 2012

Making Fabric Behave

On a recent visit, Pattiwagon brought a dress she had purchased from a deep clearance rack. It had an uneven hem on the chiffon overlay (which is why it was probably on clearance) and she challenged me to fix it with my serger.
dress before
Now I’m no expert in serging, but I knew this chiffon overlay was going to cause problems. Nancy Zieman recommends PerectSew spray, but my sewing store didn’t have it in stock, so I improvised.
I used this recipe for solvy soup and dipped the hem of the dress in it then hung it to dry overnight.
soaked in solvy soup
The next day it was dry. It was pliable, but stiff enough not to cause bunching problems.
I marked and cut off the excess hem.
cutting off
And serged a 3 thread rolled edge with Polyarn in the upper and lower loopers. It worked like a dream.   $5 dress transformed from peculiar looking to very wearable.
I have lots of the solvy soup left over and I’m thinking about making some of the scarves  I’ve been seeing in stores this year that have two layers, a lightweight knit and a chiffon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mug Rugs

I have had so much fun making these little gems. I wanted to make a gift for each of the women I’ll be meeting in Jamaica in January. I had some leftover strips from a Kate Spain jelly roll, and they turned out to be just enough for these mini quilts.  The mug rugs measure about 5” square. I serged the edges and added a layer of stabilizer as well as batting to give them extra body.

 mug rugs

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wallets and Gift Card Holders

I’m expecting a young sewing friend next week and we are planning to make wallets.  I’ve been practicing. I borrowed this pattern from How About Orange and made two oil cloth wallets/gift card holders and one denim one. Flown with success, I tried this pattern and made a denim wallet with a bill pocket and two side pockets.
wallets and gift cards
Now for some measurements
For the oil cloth and denim gift cards the main piece  measured 6” x 4 1/4” , with two pockets 4 1/4”x 2 1/4”. I did have to use a Teflon foot on my machine, but they were simple to do.  I made the denim one the size of the one on How About Orange, and I thought it was too big. It all depends on how much you want to put in it.
oil cloth gift cardwallet denim
The oil cloth ones were so much fun I pulled out some of my “stitch paper” and found some 6” squares I had received in a swap. The back of the stitch paper was not presentable, so I fused some fabric to the back. Stitch paper is made by gluing paper to fabric, allowing it to dry and then adding paint. It is a highly addictive process and it makes a huge mess.
gift card holders
Flown with success, I decided to tackle the wallet pattern I found on Pinterest. The measurements I used for it were: one piece 8” X 3 3/4” (the outside of the wallet) the inside piece was 8” x 3 1/2”. The pockets were 3 1/2” x 3 1/4”. If you are not a member, sign up is easy and you can see my Pinterest boards at
I’m looking forward to the sewing session with my friend. We might even make swing bags.
yellow swing bag

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

No Black Friday sales for this basketball loving family. We’ve been spending our time at the Old Spice Classic basketball tournament at Disney World. We created a banner to display whenever the Davidson Wildcats score a 3 pointer.

both painting

at the game

What the heck is 3 Gobbles? click here.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out the pun

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Draw a Stickman

It’s silly, but fun. Head over to Draw a Stickman and follow the instructions to create a very simple drawing. Your drawing becomes animated and tells a story.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Easy Swing Bags

I loosely followed the pattern at the Better Homes and Gardens website to make a couple of swing bags this weekend. Here is a photo of the inspiration from the website.

photo from BHG

And here are the two bags I made. For the black and tan one, I had a couple of d-rings from a junked purse. I also had a strap from the same purse. For the alligator one, I made the strap using a recycled T-shirt. I couldn't find reasonably priced d-rings, so I used small key rings which are about 90% cheaper than d-rings. I found mine at Michael's. I boxed the corners on the alligator bag.

2 bags

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pink Sewing Machine

I have just cleaned out my studio and had sold or given away several machines and cabinets. I just kept my “pets”.

So I was taking a walk this morning and came upon a yard sale and found this pink Morse machine for next to nothing. It’s label says it’s a super dial and it only sews a straight stitch.

morse super dial pink

It is in great cosmetic condition. I haven’t threaded it yet, but the interior looks clean and the motor wiring is good. When I plugged it in it ran smoothly. It has a more powerful motor than many domestic machines. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, probably just enjoy its brilliant pink for awhile, then find a good home for it.

If anyone knows what I have or where I might find a compatible manual for it, let me know.

Just remembered my neighborhood is having a yard sale this weekend. I’d better stay home.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The funeral pall is pieced

By the numbers:

  • 72” wide by 80” long. It has 4” extensions on either side of the arms of the cross.
  • 338—4 1/2” blocks
  • 8—8 1/2” blocks
  • 3086 individual pieces
  • 100 unique fabrics (table linens, bed linens, silk ties, t-shirts, upholstery fabrics, satin, lace, gold lame, and a sprinkling of cotton quilting fabrics)
  • Untold hours of labor by 12 women and one man

pieced pall


pall detail

For the quilting I plan to use Hobbs Thermore batting, and Superior gold metallic thread.

For a previous posting on the project, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn Leaves

We were traveling for a couple of weeks in New England. The leaves were gorgeous, the hikes invigorating, the covered bridges were picturesque, and the decorations were, well see for yourself…

Here are a few of my favorites from the Pumpkin People Project in Jackson, NH 

Fisherpumpkins American Gothic ZZ Pumpkins 2

 Village Pumpkins 2

And from Damariscota, Maine, some of the images from their Pumpkin Festival

Rotary Pumpkin

Octopus Pumpkin

Bat Pumpkin Bunny Pumpkin

Big Bad Wolf Pumpkin

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Funeral Pall

In the spring of 2012 I had the opportunity to take a 6 hour class from Diane Hire, an improvisational quilter. I learned techniques in her class, but I did not apply them until our sewing group was commissioned by our pastor to make a funeral pall. Here’s a photo of a pall from a church supply company. cokesbury pall

Our initial thought was that we wanted to create a piece of art that would incorporate not only Christian symbolism, but also give the congregation an opportunity to be a part of the finished work. To that end, we asked people to give us fabrics in golds, oranges, and yellows for the cross, and whites and off-whites for the background. The variety of fabrics we received was amazing. We received, tablecloths, pillowcases, T-shirts, ties, hand made lace, upholstery fabric, bridal fabric, and more. We tried to capture the individuality of each submitted fabric.

A plan was created and the group began to sew blocks. The blocks were 4.5” squares and were intentionally created to be wonky. most of the blocks contain at least ten different fabrics. It was labor intensive. Last week the blocks were completed and we laid them out on the floor. We spent a lot of time arranging and re-arranging until the design pleased us.

photo (11)

completed view

At this point, the group project becomes an individual project as the quilt is assembled and quilted. I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fabric Luggage Tags Tutorial

Here’s a way to use up scraps of fabric to make something every traveler will appreciate.
What you will need:
  • Two pieces fabric for front and back of tag 4 1/2” x 2 1/2”
  • Fabric for strap 2”x 14” (or you could use a ribbon)
  • Timtex or other heavy weight stabilizer 3 1/2” x 5 1/4”
  • Clear plastic vinyl 2 1/4” x 4” (Fabric stores sell this, but I cut up a vinyl blanket bag)
  • Cardstock for name/address 2” x 3 1/2”
  • Sewing machine foot for sewing on plastic

For my machine, I used a Teflon foot. Your sewing machine dealer will have a recommendation for your machine.  My regular sewing foot was not cooperative.
Make the strap by folding the 2”x14” strip of fabric in half lengthwise. Press a crease and open, then fold in both side edges to meet in the center and fold again. Stitch close to the edge on both sides.  (You could use a 14” length of ribbon.

press in half lengthwise
 press to center
stitch strap2

Attach your specialty sewing foot to your machine and stitch the plastic around the two sides and the bottom.

sew on vinyl

Remove the specialty sewing foot and attach fold the strap in half and stitch to the right side of the fabric at the top of your tag. The open edge of the pocket will be below. So you don’t sew over the strap when stitching front and back sides together, tuck the end of the strap into the vinyl pocket.

stitch on strap

With right sides together, stitch around the two sides and the top, leaving the bottom open

sew three sides

Turn right side out and use a chopstick or other tool to get your corners sharp
Insert the piece of heavy weight stabilizer into the tag through the open bottom and tuck in the back and front of the pocket to close and conceal.

insert stabilizer

Topstitch all the way around your tag about 1/8” from the edge. (Pull strap out of pocket before topstitching the top)

top stitch

Personalize the cardstock and insert it into the open pocket. Here; the ones I made this morning.


Other uses:
  • Gift tags for packages
  • Place cards for holiday gatherings
  • Place cards for wedding reception tables.
What’s not to love about this easy project!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Four More Projects for Handmade Holidays

This past weekend the youth at our church had a lock-in. Part of the event was making some items to sell at a Christmas bazaar.  I had four projects planned, coasters, luggage tags, gift pockets, and decorative gift bags. Many of them had never operated a sewing machine before, and I was excited to see them learning.

sewing instruction
sewing coasters
youth painting pockets

Here are some of the finished products

some finished products

coasters and gift pockets

Monday, September 3, 2012

Handmade Holidays—e-reader covers

Here’s a project that’s simple and adaptable to a variety of fabrics and techniques.

e-readers and clutches
The pattern is sized to fit the Nook and Kindle e-readers. The pattern could be easily adapted to make an iPad or smart phone cover. I used this tutorial which I found to be an excellent guide. For the two top bags I used fusible fleece and did not do any additional quilting. I also adapted the pattern to add an interior pocket in case the user wants to carry it as a clutch.

The one at the top used a piece of fabric a friend gave me. She purchased at a screen print factory in Hawaii in the 60’s. The fabric was luscious. It will be a gift for a woman who is taking a round the world cruise in January. I had never made a yo-yo before, but the bag told me it wanted it (see below).

The second one is made from a recycled  pair of jeans and a scrap of batik fabric I just loved.

The bottom one is made from a piece of hand stamped batik from Mali. I purchased it at a French Connections, fantastic fabric and art store in Pittsboro, NC.  I quilted it using a pieced scrap of wool batting and a metallic thread. I made an extra one to keep for myself and use as a clutch handbag.

For the closures I used a new to me product, fusible Velcro. Lazy Girl Designs has a product review here. I echo everything she says, the product is fantastic. The only down side is that it takes 90 seconds of heat application with an iron at the hottest setting to fuse to the fabric. I recommend using  press cloth to avoid scorching the fabric. Ask me how I know…the yo-yo. When accidents happen, embellish, embellish, embellish.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Flat iron caddy

I found this idea posted from this website listing easy DIY projects.

Make a Travel Flat Iron Holder Out of a Pot Holder

I needed a project some novice sewists and this looked simple and practical. Indeed it is, but finding the cute pot holder presented a challenge. I found some I liked for $6, but I needed a less expensive option. The ones for less had undesirable kitchen images, like roosters and cooking pots. Then one of my brilliant sewing companions suggested using one of the kitschy ones and sewing the edges so the design was on the inside.

Off to Dollar Tree where I found them at two for a dollar. But how to embellish, they looked so plain.
I pulled out my scraps of fabrics that had been fused to Wonder Under, and started to play.
Here are two samples, one was turned inside out and fabrics were fused and stitched, the other used a larger piece of fabric which I fused right over the image, then did a zigzag stitch with variegated thread around the edge. 

 caddieswith iron

Glasses case anyone?